Award winning guitarist, songwriter and author Stu Garrard (Stu G) is joined by six-time Grammy Award-winning and Platinum-selling recording artist and philanthropist Amy Grant to tell remarkable true stories of mercy in The Beatitudes Project (#TheBeatitudesProject).
The project is an 18-track (plus two bonus songs), multi-artist album, Beatitudes, releasing Friday, April 21 from Stugiology Music with management, marketing and distribution through The Fuel Music, a book, Words From The Hill(An Invitation to the Unexpected), available tomorrow from NavPress, and a documentary film, View From the Hill, currently in production.
The project reveals a wide world of connected stories: real people from all faiths and walks of life who embody mercy, poverty, meekness, the hungry and thirsty, the peacemakers, the mourners, and the pure in heart--as seen, heard and experienced through a 21st-century lens. They are the culmination of Garrard's 15-year excavation of these "blessings at the bottom of life."
"When Stu asked me to write the song about mercy, I was already hooked by the way he'd described the Beatitudes," Grant says. "It was like Jesus was looking at a crowd and saying, "Blessed are those with dirty feet and those of you who stink and those whose stomachs are growling, you're blessed and here's why... I'd never thought about it that way before."
"Morning Light" was written after Grant and Garrard met with Gaile Owens, who was convicted as an accessory in her husband's murder after suffering years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at his hands. Owens spent 27 years on death row in Tennessee, six of them in solitary confinement where she kept herself whole by singing Grant's "My Father's Eyes," offering her both comfort and solace. Owens (who was pardoned in 2010) was astonished when her remarkable story reached Grant herself, inspiring her to write this powerful new song.
This song of mercy is connected to the Words From the Hill "Mercy: Getting Caught In The Rain" chapter, which shares the story of Owens, as well as prostitution and addiction survivor Regina Mullins, currently the residential manager of Magdalene House at Thistle Farms in Franklin (Nashville), TN; Dorris, a survivor of rape, trafficking and a 20-year drug addiction and whose parents were shot in front of her at age 12; Jennifer, who ran away at 12, moved from truck to truck for four years, became a heroin addict, had a son die and was committed fully to the sex industry for 20 years before finding hope through miraculous circumstances, and Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms and CNN Hero of the Year Nominee who was sexually abused as a child.
"The Beatitudes have been the core of how I've lived and worked forever," shares Stevens in the Words from the Hill book. "...If you are trying to get to a place where you love without judgment and you welcome everybody and leave nobody behind, you have to work from the Beatitudes. They are the heart of the gospel. It's how we live."
In addition to Grant, Garrard, Hillsong UNITED, McMillan, Maher and Assad, featured on the Beatitudes album are Michael W. Smith, Martin Smith, All Sons & Daughters, Amanda Cook, Propaganda, The Brilliance, Anthony Skinner, Terrian Bass and Becky Harding. Collectively, these artists have sold more than 62 million records, won 11 Grammy, 90 Dove Awards and amassed dozens of hit songs and millions of followers on social media.
"The Beatitudes Project is meant to be a reset button in a world plagued with violence and division," says Garrard, who also authored the book. "These upside-down Jesus announcements on a hillside by the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 5 where Jews, Greeks, Romans and people of all ethnicities were gathered are a reminder that there is another way."